No experience? No worries! You don’t always have to have a lengthy resume to score your first job.
How to apply for a job when you have no experience:
It might seem as though you have no experience, but focus on the positives and emphasise the skills you do have, rather than stressing about those that you don’t. Be honest, and show off your potential.
Keep focused on your end game
You might not have a long list of past roles at this point in your career, but you can demonstrate your ambition and let employers know where you’re hoping to end up in the future. Start your resume with a short introductory paragraph that summarises your career goals and describes what kind of person you are.
Try not to use negative language by saying things like, “I don’t have experience yet but” or “I haven’t had a job before”. Instead, start your sentences with positive phrases like, “In the future I hope to” or “My career aspirations are”. Focus on your positive attitude towards the future, and don’t let your inexperience hurt your confidence.
Being the successful candidate for a job is often influenced by a person’s ability to demonstrate that they are a good ‘culture fit’ for the company that’s hiring. What this means is that employers look for candidates who share the values of the organisation, who have a positive attitude, are hard-working, and are team players. They want to know that the person they’re recruiting will have the right personality to fit in with other employees and to strive to achieve high results.
Use your resume to let the recruiter know that you have the desirable personality traits for the role. And don’t forget to do some research first to make sure your perception of the company culture is real. If you don’t personally know someone who works there, do a bit of searching on LinkedIn – maybe one of your contacts can make an introduction.
Just because you haven’t had a job before doesn’t mean that you don’t have any skills. There are lots of things you know how to do that could be valuable to an employer. Make a list of the various technical skills you have. What software do you know how to use? What other computer skills do you have? You might be great at typing, or at using Photoshop, or building websites. Even if these skills don’t relate directly to a job’s position description, they might makes you stand out from the other candidates.
Show off what you know by detailing your education history. List the schools you’ve attended and the qualifications you’ve received. If you’ve received any academic awards, or achieved exceptionally good grades in a specific area of study, be sure to outline those achievements.
You may have done some volunteer work, or been involved in a community group. Or maybe you’ve participated in some extracurricular activities at school. The debate team? A school dance organising committee? Public speaking? You can list different types of activities as experience, even if they’re not a part of a traditional job. These activities will show that you’re responsible and motivated.
Gather a list of people who can vouch for you, and ask them if they’d mind being a reference. That way, an employer will see that you have a group of people who can validate the skills and potential outlined in your resume.
A professional appearance
Make sure that your job application is neatly laid out, and uses a professional style of language. Although you haven’t been employed before, you can use the layout of your resume to convey a level of quality in your work and attention to detail. Make sure that you’ve spell-checked and proof read any communications with a potential employer. Use an appropriate email address – nothing that contains a nickname or pop culture reference.
Go the extra mile, and make a phone call to the person who’s hiring to show them that you’re well-spoken and confident. If you leave a message, make it concise and to the point and don’t forget to include your name, number and which position you are calling about.
Show some interest
Consider putting together a portfolio, or a carefully considered blog about your professional interests to show off your knowledge and skills in your field of work. Attend industry networking events, and follow relevant news updates from your industry so that you’ll be able to make a good impression when talking with future employers.
Remember, every single person currently working was once in the same position as you.
If you lack experience you can still succeed in your job search. Remember:
- Focus on where you want to be in the future
- Look at a prospective employers culture and see if you're a good fit
- Discuss the other skills you can bring to the table
- Include any extracurricular activities like volutneering